Reporton on Phobias

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  • Topic: Fear, Phobias, Phobia
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  • Published : April 9, 2007
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Investigation into Phobias: Questionnaire on Beliefs, Attitudes and Knowledge


This investigation reports the findings of a questionnaire about beliefs, attitudes and knowledge of phobias. The questionnaire asked about biological and social beliefs participants had about phobias. It was hypothesised that there will be a gender difference in relation to participants¡¦ views on phobias. Participants will have stronger social beliefs compared to biological beliefs of phobias .There will be a relationship between attitudes and biological beliefs. There will be a relationship between attitudes and social beliefs There will be a relationship between the two attitude questions and there will be a gender difference in relation to views on the abnormality of phobia sufferers. Results showed that there was some support for there being a gender difference on the questions asked. Also, individuals showed stronger belief in social reasons for phobias than biological. This supports the learning theories of phobias that state that phobias could be based on classical conditioning and observational learning. Results also showed support for their being a relationship between the attitude questions, with participants showing greater support for participants to be shown sympathy.


A phobia is a strong irrational fear of an object or situation that does not objectively justify such a reaction (Bernstein, 2003). It has been estimated that 18% of the United States population suffers from a phobia (Hall, 1997). Phobias can take many different forms including heights, dogs, spiders and even beards. However, many phobia sufferers realise their phobia are mindless but still feel discomfort and avoid the object or event, which can have huge repercussions in daily life (Bernstein, 2003).

When a phobia sufferer encounters their phobia they often have feelings of panic, dread, horror or terror. It is common for the individuals¡¦ heartbeat to increase and there to be a shortness of breath accompanied with a trembling and an extreme desire to remove themselves from the situation (Gersley, 2001).

The DSM-IV classifies three types of phobia; social phobia, agoraphobia and specific phobia (Gersley, 2001). Social phobia is an irrational fear of being negatively evaluated by other individuals; this includes speaking in public where other people would be constantly evaluating you. Generalised social phobia is an extreme form of social phobia where a sufferer would feel phobia symptoms in all forms of social situations which an individual may encounter. (Hall, 1997). Some forms of phobia can be culture based, as in Japan there is a common social phobia named tai-jin-kyofu sho, this is a phobia of embarrassing those around you (Hall, 1997). This phobia is prevalent in Japan as the culture heavily emphasises group values and goals. Agoraphobia is an intense fear of being in an unfamiliar situation especially where it would not be possible for immediate escape. Around 5% of the United States population suffer from agoraphobia (Bernstein, 2003) Agoraphobia can be extremely debilitating; as it is a fear of most public places most sufferers become housebound. Specific phobias are the most prevalent of all anxiety disorders (Rainey, 1997). A specific phobia is any phobia which is not a social phobia or agoraphobia. There are four categories of specific phobia which are; situational phobia, fear of natural environment, animal phobia and blood-injection-injury-phobia (Gersley, 2001). There are a vast amount of phobias which fit into these categories many which can be very strange to other individuals including cathisphobia; the fear of sitting down and gamophobia; the fear of marriage.

Many psychologists argue over the cause of phobias but it is believed that the cause is a combination of genetic predisposition, environmental causes, social causes and through learning. Phobias could be based on classical...
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